Heineken Regatta Impresses
March 5, 2012
– St. Maarten
From the 32nd Annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta final press release:
"On the first day of the 32nd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, the breeze was sharp and steady. On the second day of the annual Caribbean sailing festival, it blew harder still. But today, on the third and final day of competition, the wind gods truly unleashed their power. And the result was one of the more stirring, sensational days of racing in the grand and storied legacy of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. To put it another way, if you didn’t like sailing today, on a race course lashed with staunch 25-knot winds and roiling, turquoise seas flecked with whitecaps, well, you’ll never like sailing.
"Nearly 200 boats in 16 separate classes set sail today on two race circles off Marigot, on the French side of St. Maarten. On the A circle, race officers designated a pair of courses that included a long weather leg to the northern end of the island before a downwind stretch before the steady easterly tradewinds to the distinctive landmark off the island of Anguilla called Blowing Rock. Coincidentally, the race committee on the B circle also designated a course that would take most of its fleet across the Anguilla Channel to, yes, Blowing Rock. As it happened, at mid-day today the entire fleet — the B boats reaching up from the south, and the A divisions running downwind under spinnaker from the east — rendezvoused at the low-lying outcropping known as Blowing Rock. And, man, it was blowing at Blowing Rock! The wild scene at the windswept rock, with spray flying and boats converging from divergent directions at double-digit speeds, was the signature moment of this latest edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta."
Blowing Rock earned its name yesterday, the last day of the regatta.
© 2013 Bob Grieser / www.outsideimages.com
Ah yes, the Heineken, where they sail as hard as they party, and they party like tomorrow is the end of the world.
We're glad to report that a couple of Northern California boats did very well. Having previously beaten the competition at Key West Race Week and the '07 Heineken, Tiburon's Rick Wesslund was back with his J/120 El Ocaso to take top honors in the very completive 16-boat CRS 4 class. Then there was Matt Brooks of the St. Francis YC, who took class honors with the 82-year-old(!) S&S 52 Dorade, one of the most storied boats in the history of American yachting, in the CSR 7 Class, barely nipping a Swan 46 MK II. (That's a bit like racing an apple and an orange, isn't it?)
Brooks becomes the fourth St. Francis YC owner of what many have called "the defining race boat of the 20th Century." She launched the career of Sparkman & Stephens by starting off with wins in the TransAtlantic and Fastnet races. She was then purchased by Jim Flood of the St. Francis, who in 1936 sailed her to the first sweep — line honors, class honors and fleet honors — in the TransPac. Flood then sold her to fellow club member James Michael. About 25 years later, after being owned in the Pacific Northwest, Europe and the East Coast again, she was purchased by R.C. Keefe of the St. Francis. As we recall, he raced her old-school style, meaning in a suit and tie.
According to the St. Francis YC, Brooks, the new owner of Dorade, has done an "in depth, heroic restoration of Dorade," with an eye to repeating all of the great yacht's great racing, including doing the TransPac in '13. With the Heineken victory, Brooks and Dorade are off to a great start!
Another once quasi-Northern California boat, Roger Sturgeon's R/P TP65 Rosebud, which took honors in almost all the prestigious races from England to Australia, with the East Coast and the West Coast in between, didn't have such good luck at the Heineken. During Rosebud's last race under Sturgeon, she lost her mast plunging into a Middle Sea wave in the Med, and did some damage to her hull. Sold, repaired and rechristened Equation, she slammed into a wave in the second race of the Heineken and lost part of one of her spreaders.
Richmond YC's Jim Gregory also participated in the Heineken, albeit as crew. Having done three Pacific Cups and five Mexican races with the Schumacher 50 Morpheus, he and his wife Debbie have been cruising for the last year, and Debbie's second rule of cruising is "Don't race the home." So Jim sailed with East Coast friends aboard a Swan 56. Also racing was Patrick Adams of Mill Valley, captain of the Swan 100 Varsovie, and there were undoubtedly other Northern Californians also.
The Heineken is an event that's going as strong as the wind was blowing yesterday. If you like it San Francisco-windy, with tradewind seas, but in shorts-and-T-shirt weather, you should check it out!
- latitude / richard